Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun Facts From My Future Home State

I'm moving to Vicksburg, Mississippi in a couple of months, and because I like to be prepared, I did a bunch of research about my soon-to-be-home state.

Fast Facts

-Jackson is the largest city, with a population of 174,514. The total population is around three million, about 1/3 of whom are black.

-59% of Mississippians consider themselves "very religious", the highest percentage in the U.S. It's also the only state with over 50% Baptists.

-As of the 2010 census, Mississippi was last in per capita income and had the lowest median household income out of all U.S. states. It also had 14 of the 100 lowest-income counties in the U.S. The American Human Development Project ranked it third-worst in the country behind West Virginia and Arkansas. CQ Press ranked it the least livable state in 2011. It's not all bad, though: Mississippi has one of the nation's lowest costs of living, and one of its highest rates of charitable giving.

-According to the private Commonwealth Fund, Mississippi is ranked 50th in overall health care, 50th in mortality rate amenable to health care, 50th in infant deaths per 1,000 live births and 51st in percentage of overweight children (including U.S. territories, I believe) at 44.5%. 34% of Mississippians are overweight, as per USA Today.

-Mississippi has not gone Democratic in a Presidential election since Jimmy Carter, and has voted for a non-Republican candidate only thrice since 1960 (the other ones were George Wallace in '68 and Robert Byrd in '60). It was the only state where every single county voted for Barry Goldwater in '64 (Alabama had no Democratic counties, but a few with unpledged delegates). Excepting the Attorney General (Jim Hood) and one member of the House (Bennie Thompson), Republicans control every major political institution or position in the state. In 2004, their constitutional ban on same-sex marriage passed with 86% approval, the highest margin of any state.

History Time!

-Mississippi has been a French, Spanish and British colony. It went over to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris (1783). Between 1795 and 1832, the U.S. government negotiated ten different treaties with various Indian tribes for the state's present-day territory. It became the 20th state admitted to the Union in 1817, and was the second to secede from it in 1861.

-And boy, did they pay for it. Mississippi suffered the largest casualty percentage of any state in the Civil War. 78,000 Mississippians entered the war and 59,000 were either killed or wounded in it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Memorial Day evolved partially from a Mississippi custom.

-Related to Vicksburg specifically: Newitt Vick, after whom the town was named, was a Methodist minister and a conscientious objector during the Revolutionary War. The siege of Vicksburg was one of the Civil War's pivotal battles; the town fell after a 47-day siege, effectively cutting the South in two. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4th, so the town didn't celebrate Independence Day for another 82 years thereafter.

-Mississippi hates alcohol. Absolutely loathes it. It banned alcohol in the state in 1907, a dozen years before Prohibition was passed, and it was the first state to ratify the 18th Amendment. After the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, it kept up the statewide ban for another another third of a century. When it finally went to a county option system, allowing counties to decide whether they'd be "dry" or "wet", the language of that law specifically reaffirmed the spirit(s) of Prohibition.

-Incidentally, Mississippi didn't actually ratify the 13th Amendment (banning slavery) until 1995.

-Mississippi's is the only state flag to incorporate the Confederate battle flag.

Economy Time!

-Mississippi's unemployment rate dropped to 9.0% in March. Before that, it had been over 9.6% for the previous 28 months, including 26 over 10%. The state GDP grew by 1.1% in 2010, one of the lowest rates of any state.

-It ranks third in casino gambling income among the states, behind only Nevada and New Jersey, due to the profitable riverboat gambling trade. Six riverboat casinos work Vicksburg alone.

-Although the days of King Cotton are long over, Mississippi still ranks sixth among the states in cotton exports. It's fourth in rice and fifth in poultry; its top agricultural commodity is broilers (5-12 week old chickens; I had no idea), followed by soybeans, corn, cotton and aquaculture. In fact, it's the country's leading producer of farmed catfish, and one of the leaders in shrimp.

-The importance of the poultry industry extends into manufacturing, where its biggest manufactured good is processed goods, especially chickens. It also produces furniture, chemicals, motor vehicle parts and ships; the Huntington-Ingalls shipyard at Pascagoula manufactures merchant vessels and nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. The state also has important petroleum and natural gas mining concerns.

Trivia Time!

-The word "Mississippi" is believed to originate from the Ojibwa/Cherokee mici zibi, which means "Father of Waters". The entire state is lowlands, and is subject to frequent flooding from the Mississippi River. Thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes are common (the latter average is 27 per year).

-The Mississippi state fossil is the basilosaurus, a prehistoric whale. The state tree and the state flower are both magnolias, and its official nickname is the Magnolia State (other nicknames include the Hospitality State, the South's Warmest Welcome, and the Birthplace of America's Music). Their motto is "Virtute et armis" (By Valor and Arms), the state reptile is the alligator and the state beverage is... milk. (#prohibition)

-Speaking of culture, Elvis was a Mississippian, as were Jimmy Buffett and Howlin' Wolf. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones and Oprah Winfrey are all from the state; same with William Faulkner, John Grisham and Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets.

-Mississippi has produced some unbelievable football players. Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Deuce McAllister, Patrick Willis, Steve McNair, Donald Driver, Ray Guy and many others were either born in the state or went to its schools.

-Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg. The first human lung and heart transplants were performed in Mississippi. When Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub and inadvertently inspired the teddy bear, that was in Mississippi too. The state hosted the first world heavyweight championship, is home to the International Checkers Hall of Fame, and is home to the graves of the King and Queen of all Gypsies in the United States. Finally, the world's largest shrimp resides in the Old Spanish Fort Museum in Pascagoula, presumably dead. (I'm slightly terrified.)

This is what I imagine daily life is like there--fighting off giant cannibal shrimp!


Anonymous said...

Is it really a cannibal if it's not a person? I mean, a giant shrimp eating another shrimp would be cannibalistic, but a giant shrimp eating a person is just another day on the food chain.

Andy said...

Very true. If the giant shrimp happen to be genetically engineered hybrids or something, though, and they have bits of human DNA, I'd say it counts.

Post a Comment